Who was it easier to come out to - friends or family?

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Joined in 2007
February 25, 2011, 22:48

I was thinking about why I came out to friends first, then my sister, and then my mother, and why I found it easier to do it in that order.

One of the most difficult struggles for anyone who begins to identify as either gay, lesbians, bisexual or transgender is coming out to our family, friends or people that we work with. For some it can be dramatic, and for others a smooth transition or non event.

Of course, our ability or inability (in some cases) to come out to our family could depend on a number of factors.

This ‘fear of rejection’ or ‘loss of connection’ actually factored into my fears when I came out to my sister and mother, and I actually told them afterwards that on some level, I had prepared myself for their rejection of me, and was prepared to just walk away. (I don’t know how prepared I would have been in reality – facing that sort of rejection would not have easy – in truth, it would have been devastating for me). My family were horrified at this possibility, as in the case of my mother, she said to me, ‘you are still my son, and I still love you’.

And for anyone with a strong religious or christian belief system, there is the possibility of ‘losing our salvation’. I know that before accepting that I was gay, I believed that I was somehow defective and needed to be fixed and believed that homosexuality was not part of God’s plan for me. And of course, I thought it would mean that I would go to ‘Hell’.

I had spent years, trying to find a way to cure myself, in pray, altar calls, praise and worship, bible studies, youth meetings, Christian fellowship, etc. So, I had believed that my family would reject me on the basis of what had been our commonly shared religious beliefs.

I remember when I told some of my friends from Church, I got some interesting responses. Some simply dropped me altogether – blocked on Facebook or simply no return calls when messages left. That was not a nice feeling for me. But mostly, it was ‘I am happy for you – but I don’t believe that it is a good thing’ – an interesting version of ‘we love the sinner – just not the sin’. :~

When it came to my friends who were not Christians – the straight ones and the gay ones – it was more relaxed and accepting. I became the token gay guy at one of my best friends, Hen’s party. And then suddenly, others were trying to hook me up with their other gay friends or in one case, their gay brother (not good options from my experience. 😀 )

Coming out at work was a mixed bag – I had maintained an image – a level of secrecy there because, I was afraid that it would jeopardise any career advancement, or lead to some sort of ‘social isolation’. Others in my workplace worked it out, and they were talking. My current manager was actually the last to find out. The one thing, I believe now is that I am not in anyway, morally or legally obligated to tell my work collegues or my manager / employer that I am gay.

So, I suppose I found it easier to come out to my non christian friends, then work collegues and finally my family. On one hand, it seems like the closer that we are to people, the more difficult it becomes.

Anyway – what are other peoples thoughts / experiences on this subject?

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
February 25, 2011, 23:55

Hi Jason

Thanks for raising this very interesting topic. 🙂

I agree – for me it’s been hardest coming out to close family.

I worked in a very LGBT workplace that made it the norm and acceptable to be LGBT or different in some way. Quite unexpectedly I fell in love with a woman I worked with and had to rethink my spiritual ideas and faith. I remember it being an exhilarating, heady time and also quite scary because I was fighting off old teachings that I would be going to hell. It took me a few years to reconcile my faith and sexuality.

I came out to a couple of work friends first, one who was straight but open minded as most were in that particular setting. Then I came out to counselling friends – again very accepting, non judgmental and supportive. My ex husband was great too. And then a couple of old friends from church were also fine as was my sister and her husband. I waited until I was back in the country and in a relationship before disclosing to my mother. Although she’d had gay friends and made positive remarks about the LGBT community in the past, it was extremely difficult coming out to her. I think this was mainly because we’d never talked about intimate relationships or the really important emotional stuff… and coming out fitted in this domain for me. It felt like I was breaking through a major barrier by bringing this into the open. I’m happy to say she responded well as did the rest of my immediate family. I couldn’t bring myself to disclose directly to my father and left Mum to do that. He also was fine with it and has always been really nice to my female partners, nicer in fact than he was to the previous male partners. I’ve worked in a few different locations and settings so coming out is an ongoing process at work. The colleagues I’m closest to all know and have responded positively.

I didn’t disclose my sexuality to previous church associates because I couldn’t face the heart ache of likely rejection on top of rejection already experienced via the church. And I’m not in those circles anymore so it’s no longer relevant.


Ann Maree

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